Top Ten Tips For Effective New Year Resolutions

Here are our top ten tips for making and achieving New Year resolutions, based on feedback from the users of PromiseLocker

Create Space in Your Life

To achieve your goal you may need to give up something else to create enough time. You may need more free time in your week or to reduce the number of things on your mind so that you can focus on your goal.

Plan for Success

Try to understand the components that will help you to achieve the goal. If you are trying to lose weight, do some research on what foods to eat and the most effective forms of exercise. The aim is to make this as easy as possible, not deprive yourself unnecessarily.

Believe in Yourself

It’s all up to you. If you don’t think you will succeed, you won’t. Try to visualise what your life will be like after you have achieved your New Year’s Resolution and focus on the positive things you can do to get there faster.

Do It Together

Share the joy and the pain. If you take on New Year resolutions with friends it can often be more rewarding and fun. You can share tips with each other and be motivated by what others have achieved. Competitive spirit could spur you on to greater success.

Be Realistic

This is all about improvement, not punishment. Choose a small list of goals that are attainable given your work and other commitments. If you achieve a small goal it will give you the motivation to keep going. Large goals can often seem unattainable.

Reward Yourself

We all need help to maintain our motivation. Set your goals so that you can celebrate the small achievements along the way. Short sprints are much more effective and enjoyable than a long, slow slog.

Plan for Setbacks

Nobody is perfect. Life has a habit of getting in the way of New Year resolutions. Accept this as normal and don’t aim for perfection all of the time. Think in advance what setbacks you may encounter and how you can mitigate them.

Manage Your Willpower

You can’t do everything all at once. Your willpower is a finite resource so ration it for the goals that count and let some other things go. Recent research shows that willpower can be increased with positive attitude. Perhaps achieving some small goals will help you to improve your willpower.

Check Your Progress

Measuring, recording and sharing your progress are all positive steps that will support your achievement. If your progress has been good, it provides positive reinforcement to keep going. If you have fallen behind, take some time to reflect on why and what you can do to improve.  Don’t forget to record your resolutions at www.PromiseLocker.com

Remove Temptation

Think ahead about things that may tempt you to stray from your path and try to get them out of your life, at least for a while. This could include staying away from people who reinforce your bad habits, removing sugary foods from the cupboard or avoiding certain activities.

 

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How To Make New Year Resolutions – And Keep Them

Relaxing over the holidays may give you time to reflect on 2013 and think about what you want to achieve in 2014. If you are like almost half of the population, you will be thinking of making New Year resolutions. The sad fact is that most people don’t achieve their resolutions, but with a bit of planning you can be one of few smug few who can make your resolutions a reality.

A study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol in 2007 showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. Another study by the University of Scranton showed that it has a lot to do with age. 39% of people in their twenties achieved their resolution each year while this dropped to 14% for people in their fifties.

To achieve New Year resolutions you need to understand a bit about how your mind works and how to remove obstacles to success.

In his New Year resolution book A Course in Happiness, Frank Ra maintains that “resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with New Year’s resolutions”.

Chris Noone, Co-founder of www.PromiseLocker.com, supports the view that sharing your goals with others improves the chance of success. After a few unsuccessful solo attempts he and a few friends promised each other that they would lose weight and enter competitive sporting events. Importantly they also told all of their friends.

“Because we publicly declared our commitment we had the support of friends and family, plus a bit of peer pressure from the rest of the group. We were all able to achieve results that we had only dreamed of previously”.

James Brodie, a strength and conditioning Coach for the Manly Marlins Rugby Union Club and owner of J-Train Athletic Performance, works one-on-one with his clients to achieve their fitness goals.

“The ones who really succeed are those who make public pacts and get ongoing encouragement from their friends and family. This holds them accountable and puts the responsibility on them to work harder to achieve these goals”, said James.

Here are some more tips to help you achieve success in 2014.

Start Small

A big goal sounds impressive, but is hard to achieve. Start by setting small goals so you begin to understand how you can best achieve results. Once you have a few successes under your belt and understand your potential, take a step up to a bigger goal.

Reward Yourself

We all need help to maintain our motivation. Set your goals so that you can celebrate the small achievements along the way. Short sprints are much more effective and enjoyable than a long, slow slog.

Recruit Supporters

Share your success with friends and family so they can congratulate you along the way. Don’t be afraid to let them know if you slip up too! You’ll find that encouragement from others can be really motivating. At the very least, the risk of public failure will make improve your dedication.  Set up a blog to share your progress or use Facebook or Twitter. Websites like PromiseLocker and apps such as Lift  and Everest make it easy to record, track and share your commitments.

Plan for Setbacks

Nobody is perfect. Life has a habit of getting in the way of New Year resolutions. Accept this as normal and don’t aim for perfection all of the time. Think in advance what setbacks you may encounter and how you can mitigate them.

Check Your Progress

Measuring, recording and sharing your progress are all positive steps that will support your achievement. If your progress has been good, it provides positive reinforcement to keep going. If you have fallen behind, take some time to reflect on why and what you can do to improve.

Remove Temptation

Think ahead about things that may tempt you to stray from your path and try to get them out of your life, at least for a while. This could include staying away from people who reinforce your bad habits, removing sugary foods from the cupboard or avoiding certain activities.

Make it Real

Your New Year’s Resolutions should be based on actions that are obvious. Vowing to get fit or lose weight are quite vague, instead try to commit to walking to work twice per week or not drinking sugary drinks.

Manage Your Willpower

You can’t do everything all at once. According to Roy Baumeister from Florida State University your willpower is a finite resource, so ration it for the goals that count and let some other things go. Recent research shows that willpower can be increased with positive attitude. Perhaps achieving some small goals will help you to improve your willpower.

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Who’s Up For the Challenge?

Last week we challenged the candidates in the 2013 Australian Federal Election to record their promises online so that voters have a permanent record of their commitments and can judge their performance over time. As a group we largely vote for politicians on the basis of their promises and they stay in power based on how well they keep those promises. Most employees have their performance reviewed, politicians should be no different.

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We know from past elections that political parties go quiet about the promises they made to get them into power, immediately after the election. The most recent example of this is the WA Liberal Party which removed from its website all of the links to the promises it made for the WA state election held in March 2013. Luckily a number of these promises were recorded on PromiseLocker before they were removed so they can be held accountable.

It’s interesting to see who has risen to the challenge and who is unwilling to keep a permanent record of their promises.

The standout absences are the Liberal and National Parties with none of their candidates recording any promises. Closely following is Labor with only one promise recorded by one candidate. What does this tell us about how serious the major parties are about keeping promises?

As a party, One Nation has been the most active in recording promises and they have also engaged their support base most effectively, recording the most Likes and Shares via Facebook. The One Nation supporters have a high propensity to offer support and express their own opinions. A number of Greens candidates, especially in WA have individually been very prolific in recording promises and are starting to attract a good online following. Individual candidates from Palmer United and Katter’s Australian Party have also been quite active. Wikileaks and Senator Online are expected to record promises soon. PromiseLocker is an especially fertile environment for them, given their online focus. It will be interesting to see if they can engage their supporters online as well as One Nation.

It would be great to see Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott recording their promises on PromiseLocker. Keeping your promises is pretty fundamental to democracy.

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PromiseLocker Challenges Rudd & Abbott to Record Their Promises Online

Today we made the following challenge to Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and all other candidates in the 2013 Australian Federal election:

 “We challenge Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and all other candidates in the 2013 Federal Election to record their promises online.       

If they won’t record them – what are they hiding?”

 We made this challenge after receiving feedback from our users that they did not trust politicians to keep their promises.

“If the candidates expect people to vote for them because of their promises, they should be willing to have those promises permanently recorded.”  said Chris Noone Co-Founder of PromiseLocker.

“If they won’t record their promises – what are they hiding?”  “Do they think they can ignore their promises after they have been elected?” 

“We know from previous elections that political parties remove their promises from their own websites shortly after the elections. The Liberal Party did this shortly after the WA state election in March.”

This is the first election where the internet and social media will be a powerful force in monitoring promises made by politicians. By recording promises and tracking their progress voters can judge the true performance of the politicians they have elected.

“We contacted all the major parties and many of the candidates have seen the value of our independent register and begun logging their promises.”

So far, Liberal and Labor have not recorded any promises.  

The Greens, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Liberal Democratic Party and many independents have uploaded election promises and have committed to registering more.

Political promises can be viewed here:  http://www.promiselocker.com/promises/tagged/Politics

Election candidates can record their promises here:  http://www.promiselocker.com/they-promised-to

 Follow the challenge on Twitter:   @PromiseLocker    or       #PromiseWatchImage

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What Difference Does a New Homepage Make?

We are about to find out. Today we launched a new homepage which is a radical departure from our previous design.  We’ve spent some time listening to our users and really thinking about their motivations when visiting the site. We learnt that not everyone was 100% sure of what to do when they arrived and this equals a missed opportunity.

Our new approach is to explain what PromiseLocker offers in the context of the key audience groups e.g fitness, lifestyle, political promises, time poor users etc. We provide a relevant entry point for each group with messaging specifically targeted at that group.

Rather than showing lots of promises made by other people, we show the benefits of using PromiseLocker so as to encourage more people to become engaged with the site.

Time, lots of data analysis and feedback from our users will tell us if we have made the right decision.

Check out the new homepage here:  www.PromiseLocker.com

We’d love to hear your feedback

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Worthy Pledge or Just Another Marketing Campaign?

Broken promise concept.

Here is an opinion piece we wrote for Encore that was also re-published on Mumbrella on 9 August 2013

http://mumbrella.com.au/a-worthy-pledge-or-just-another-marketing-campaign-171860

The fierce competition between brands and the rise of the informed consumer is taking brands into new battlegrounds. Competing on price, service and features is no longer enough to get consumers to take notice. Many brands are now trying to differentiate themselves by being ‘good’ or ‘honest’. These catchphrases make great marketing campaigns, but what obligation do marketers have to ensure that they are actually delivering on the commitments they make?

ANZ has been heavily promoting its pledge to lend $1 billion to new small businesses over 12 months. A worthy objective and an opportunity that will be welcomed by many small businesses. When approached by PromiseLocker ANZ declined to release any details of their progress on delivering on the pledge. After 3 months one would expect that about $250 million would have been loaned. If they have loaned more, it’s a great opportunity for the ANZ to shout about their success and how they are delivering on their promise to help small business. But if the figure is lower than $250 million what obligation does ANZ have to speak up? Can ANZ just stay quiet if they don’t like the results? Where is the line between a great marketing angle and corporate integrity?

When brands make public commitments that they don’t keep, they are at risk of brand damage and the potential wildfire of ‘social media backlash’ which can be sudden and ferocious, but ultimately dies down. It would be difficult to claim that the ANZ is protecting confidential information because how can you make a pledge and then keep the results secret?   If the ANZ is trying to show that it is the good guy, its image may actually be enhanced by being totally transparent about the results – no matter what they are. Otherwise consumers may see this as just another marketing campaign.

Many companies seek to prove their ‘goodness’ by donating to worthy causes. This is great and should be encouraged, but it’s impact on brand image may be lessened if you see a supermarket featuring a $5,000 donation to a scout group by spending many times more on billboard ads to crow about it. What’s the real intent here, to help worthy causes or just create another marketing angle? Obviously there is an opportunity for a brand to differentiate itself by actually donating the marketing budget it planned to promote its donations. Social media is sure to applaud this true ‘goodness’.

The Australian food and advertising industries introduced self-regulatory pledges in 2009 to discourage the advertising of unhealthy food to children. The Prevention Research Collaboration at the University of Sydney found that  ‘the thresholds set by the industry pledges are very lenient, so that restrictions only apply to a very limited set of foods and drinks, and a very narrow range of television viewing times, significantly limiting the potential of these pledges to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink advertising’. In effect, this means that advertising can still appear in programs that are very popular with children, such as The Simpsons. Research reported by the PRC has ’found no change in the extent of unhealthy foods advertising following the introduction of these industry initiatives.’ The industry does not monitor compliance with the pledges, instead it relies on consumers to report perceived breaches. If a pledge is vague, voluntary and compliance is not monitored, why bother?

Tesco in the UK was recently accused of breaking its 1999 pledge to eliminate genetically modified ingredients from animal feed used in its products. Tesco claims its suppliers were finding it increasingly difficult to secure non-GM feeds. There was some coverage in blogs, but Tesco largely avoided negative coverage by being very upfront about its reasons for making the change. It’s possible to break a pledge and get away with it, but companies need to carefully explain why keeping the pledge was not possible.

Fedex is one company that takes its commitments seriously. Its Purple Promise “I will make every FedEx experience outstanding” is more than a catchphrase, it permeates the company from the CEO to the newest hire. The FedEx customer-centric culture is in ingrained into new recruits via tutorials, videos and ‘Purple Promise stories’. This training is ongoing and the Purple Promise is referred to and embraced at all levels of management. It must work, Fedex is consistently rated at the top of the University of Michigan business school’s American Customer Satisfaction Index.

As the ability of consumers to access information increases, marketers would be wise to ensure that their pledges are truly ‘honest’ and ‘good’, and not just a veneer on the latest marketing campaign. Pledges need to be understood and embraced by the entire company and processes established to ensure they can be monitored and delivered. If a pledge needs to be broken, make sure there is a very good reason and it is well communicated.

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Anthill Smart 100 Readers’ Choice Awards

In a recent post we talked about the importance of entering awards as a way of enhancing our PR profile. We practice what we preach! PromiseLocker was recently named as one of the Anthill Smart 100 Finalists and we have followed that up with a great position in the Smart 100 Readers’ Choice Index. Out of over 100 entrants we ranked 7th according to the Anthill readers. PromiseLocker was placed well ahead of well-funded startups such as DesignCrowd and AirTasker. Get the full details here: http://anthillonline.com/anthills-smart-100-readers-choice-awards-2013/

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Will Journalists Only Write About Startups After They Raise $1 million?

Have you noticed that media coverage about start up companies routinely includes a statement that the company has just raised $1 million (or more) or has been founded by a former Google exec? Try this random sample – Favourit, AirTasker, Posse.   One could be forgiven for thinking that it is a pre-requisite to have either of these before a journalist writes about a start-up.  Of course it’s not, but journalists know that if they concentrate on companies with these attributes their story will have credibility and newsworthiness.

If you haven’t just received a large cash deposit in your bank account or well known business icons don’t routinely hang around your office it’s still possible to grab the attention of journalists. You just need to understand their motivations and provide a solution for their pain points. Here are 5 ways we have used or have considered to get journalists to write about PromiseLocker and get PR that works.

Try the Low Budget Approach

If journalists are pre-disposed to write about companies that have just had a successful fund-raising round, you won’t grab their attention by talking about how much capital you hope to raise in the future. Instead, focus on how little you have spent to date and disprove the belief that money = good. Focus on how many personal sacrifices you have made along the way, the long-term health effects of eating instant noodles or how leaving school at 15 was the best thing you did.

 Insert Your Company Into a Big Story

The size of a media frenzy is usually related to how many famous people are involved and the shock value. If you’re not famous enough to rouse the journalists or are not keen on public nudity in front of old ladies, you should be on the lookout for big news stories that you can leverage. Journalists are keen to find new angles. Perhaps your company can offer a solution to the problem or you have a unique insight into the issue. You could also challenge someone to do something related to your business. When PromiseLocker launched it challenged the candidates in the 2013 WA State Election to record their election promises. This was picked up by 6PR radio presenter Howard Sattler and he personally challenged the Labor Leader Mark McGowan on-air to record his promises on PromiseLocker.

Be Outrageous

If you really are into public nudity or something similar, you could always try the outrageous option. This won’t work for everyone, especially if your company mission is based around trust and security, but sometimes a bit of irreverence can work well. If you go down this path, consider the many ways it could backfire and have a mitigation strategy, not like AussieMite.

Awards 

Everyone loves a winner! Win an award and your company immediately becomes interesting. Enter as many competitions as you can, most don’t take much effort and the process of completing the applications helps to refine the way you describe your company.

 

Pick a Date

Every day of the year is the official day of ‘something’. You’re probably kicking yourself that you missed ‘Hug Your Cat Day’. Never fear, there are plenty more days that could be relevant to your company and provide the right hook for an article. If there isn’t one – create your own.

 

Lists & Surveys

Journalists love facts and figures as they lend credence to an article. Compile lists of top ten’s related to your company and provide some commentary about what it says about people or an industry. Use it as an opportunity position your company as thought leaders. Similarly, surveys create multiple opportunities to provide insightful analysis and delve into areas that are of interest to readers

We’re a Finalist in the Anthill Magazine ‘SMART 100’ Index!

We’re pleased to announce that PromiseLocker has been named one of Australia’s 100 most innovative products, in one of the largest and most audacious innovation awards of its kind in Australia – the Anthill Magazine ‘SMART 100’ Index.

Voting for the Reader’s Choice Award has just commenced and we’d really appreciate it if you could spare a few moments to vote for us by to Tweeting, Liking or commenting here:  http://anthillonline.com/www-promiselocker-com-nsw-2013-anthill-smart-100/

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The SMART 100 Index was created by leading business media channel Anthill Magazine in 2008 to identify and rank Australia’s 100 most innovative products, proving to be one of the largest surveys of its kind in Australia.

“In true Anthillian style, the SMART 100 is an ever-evolving, ever-improving experiment,” said Anthill founder and Editor-In-Chief James Tuckerman.

“It identifies and ranks new Australian innovations by applying a combination of crowdsourcing, collaboration and common-sense. We employ the judgement of ‘mavens’ and readers.

“Unlike your average awards program, we don’t lock a panel of expert adjudicators in a small room. Neither do we demand a thorough analysis of each applicant’s P&L statement. We don’t even request an historical snapshot of ‘runs on the board’ or commercial achievements.

“This is because innovation is future focussed. It is about identifying and solving problems in ways that will change the way we live, do business and think.”

What Grizzly Bears Taught Us About Running a Start-up

Getting a start-up off the ground is hard. The path is littered with the carcases of many businesses that failed to find their way out of the forest and simply starved or were eaten alive by competitors. But it’s a well worn path and the survivors can tell us the steps to follow. Surprisingly they are very similar to escaping from a bear.

WikiHow  describes 7 ways to escape from a bear , none of which involve running away and screaming for help. That option is rarely available for start-ups either. We have applied these steps at PromiseLocker.

If you think like a bear and act like a bear, some may believe you are a bear. If you are alone in the forest at night, being thought of as a bear is a good thing. Here is how we have improved our chances of survival:

Avoid close encounters

If you can see competitors on the path ahead, choose another path. There is less chance of being eaten if the predator doesn’t know you are there. It’s easier to grow a business if you do not have entrenched competitors in your market. At PromiseLocker, we chose a niche that does not have many competitors so we will have a lead role in developing the market.

Keep your distance

Study your competitors habits and weaknesses from a distance before you make yourself visible. Create a safe market niche where you can thrive, but still have access to a broader market. Watch the trends in the market as a whole and see how you can predict what they will mean for your niche.  React swiftly to change.

Stand tall, even if the bear charges you

If you want to attack an established market head-on, make sure that you are perceived as the baddest bear in the forest. Stand tall and make a big noise. This will only work for a while. Make sure you deliver on the perception as quickly as possible.  A bluff only works once.

Know your bear

Know your competitors and customers, really, really well. If you understand how Brown Bears behave, it doesn’t mean that you can predict how Polar Bears behave. Find out what you really know well and exploit that knowledge better than anyone else.

Understand the bear’s motivations

Why? That’s the question that journalists and customers will ask. Why should journalists listen to you and promote your business? Think about how you can make create a unique angle for your start-up and make it newsworthy. At PromiseLocker we targeted an election campaign and challenged the politicians to record their promises. This was picked up by talk-back radio and the Opposition Leader was challenged on-air to record his promises on PromiseLocker . We were able to insert ourselves into the hottest story of the week and have a popular radio presenter talking about our product. His motivation was to have something challenging to discuss with the politicians and we met that need.

Respond appropriately based on the situation

If approached by a Grizzly Bear, play dead. If approached by a Black Bear, fight back. First of all, know what you are up against, then consider the appropriate action. Because your business is new, you will come across a lot of challenges. Take the time to assess the situation and carefully consider any decisions. Choices made early in the life of a start-up can dictate its course over many years, so make the right choices, not just the convenient ones. But don’t take too long, hungry bears are rarely patient.

Consider last minute escape techniques

If all else fails, try something different. What have you got to lose. You will crash and burn if the money runs out so be creative about your options. Think about partnerships, mergers, a new business model or offering your product for free. If you just stand still for too long, one thing is certain – you will get eaten!

http://www.promiselocker.com

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